Doug Ford calls out irresponsible farmers for delaying Stage 2 in Windsor-Essex
Premier Doug Ford announced today that Toronto and Peel regions will be able to enter Stage 2 of reopening in just two days from now, leaving one final region in Stage 1: Windsor-Essex.
While the rest of the province has already or will soon be able to open businesses such as restaurant patios and hair salons, this region is once again being left behind due to its unfortunate COVID-19 situation.
Just this morning, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted that health officials identified 62 new cases in Windsor-Essex over the past two days as a result of expanded testing in an effort to resolve workplace outbreaks.
Many of these workplace outbreaks are happening on farms throughout the region, and Ford took the opportunity during his daily press briefing on Monday to call out irresponsible farmers who've failed to get migrant workers tested for the virus.
"Farmers just aren't cooperating. They aren't sending out the people to get tested," Ford said at Queen's Park. "It's not fair to the people of Windsor, it's not fair to other people doing what you're doing."
Windsor-Essex is the only region in Ontario to remain in Stage 1: “it’s not fair to the people of Windsor-Essex, I feel sorry for them I really do,” @fordnation says farmers aren’t cooperating on testing, says he’s “begging” for their cooperation. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/B4ZbwxnYtM— Tina Yazdani (@TinaYazdani) June 22, 2020
Ford has called on farmers to increase testing among workers several times now, and it seems he's finally reached his wits' end.
"To the people in Windsor-Essex, I'm sorry, it's not fair. But this isn't working out. I'd knock down a brick wall for farmers. They're the hardest-working people I know. But please cooperate. There's 8,000 temporary workers there," Ford said as he pleaded with farmers to comply.
"It's very simple. We'll send in the resources, we have the resources —the mobile units — but you can't force someone to get tested."
@fordnation You sir are losing votes big time in Windsor holding us hostage in phase 1 because of farms 70km away. Shut them down till it's under control. Business owners and workers shouldn't suffer because of farmers— Bonnie Willsie (@bonnie_willsie) June 22, 2020
The Premier went on to call the situation "frustrating" and said he won't hesitate to "pull out other tools" to ensure testing increases in these problematic areas.
He also pointed out that the provincial government is providing $15 million for personal protective equipment (PPE), and he said they're willing to "bend over backwards" and "do whatever it takes" to help improve the situation.
"Whatever tool I have to protect the people of Windsor — and the food supply chain, and the farmers, and the workers — I'll start pulling out every tool I have at my disposal to make sure this gets done," he said.
"It's just not fair what you're doing right now, simple as that."
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